Interview With Amy, Alternative School English Teacher In Texas (Part 2)

In Part 1, Amy, a seventh grade English teacher of students who have disciplinary problems, gave some background information on her school and students and also described the challenges she faces.

What advice does she have for teachers facing similar situations?

“This is what I recommend to other teachers who find themselves in a challenging place, with both ESL and fluent English speakers in their classrooms: find something different. Have options. Build your library. Use picture books in the classroom. Invest in a few books in the local language, as well. Read to your students.

Buy magazines. Find some that fit the interests of your students, not just you. And then get a couple more that seem interesting.”

Amy also reported in Part 1 that she is a fan and proponent of Breaking News English.

Given her experience, I was interested to hear Amy’s perspective on the English-only legislation which is in the news frequently these days (and on the TEFL Logue here and here), and took this opportunity to ask her specifically about this topic.

“You asked about English-only legislation, and I think it’s all a load of nonsense. The US has always been and will always be a land of immigrants. People (specifically, third- and fourth-generation white immigrant people) have their knickers in a twist because things are changing, and suddenly they don’t understand what those people from Elsewhere are saying. Well, to that I say, it’s a small world and getting ever-smaller, so perhaps it’s time that we INCREASE our use of other languages, rather than eliminate the option with English-only legislation.

Here in Texas, with our constant stream of immigrants fresh from Central and South America, English-only legislation is moot. We have areas in which the English language is not heard for days and weeks at a time, until a gringo like me waltzes into the taqueria and orders enchiladas, no refritos. English-only laws can only ever penetrate so far, just like any law based on fear and protectionism.”

I have to say I get a bit distressed each time another story on English-only legislation is delivered to my inbox in one of my keyword-English Google news updates; I don’t always see or hear about the opposition to these laws that I’d like to and I think it’s important to share the fact that there are other Americans – like me, or, well, in addition to me – who don’t think these English-only policies are the greatest thing since sliced bread.

Stay tuned to the TEFL Logue for Amy’s take on another of her areas of expertise: classroom management, including discipline.